Cheryl Loe
Communications Project Manager
The Foundation Center
(888) 356-0354 ext. 701

New York, NY -- March 20, 2012. In recent years, the number of U.S. charitable foundations awarding grants for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects around the world has more than tripled. A new research brief by the Foundation Center, Foundation Funding for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, finds that between 2003 and 2010 this growth in the number of active funders was accompanied by a nearly five-fold increase in the number of organizations receiving these grants, to the tune of $144 million in 2009-2010. And, while WASH funding as a proportion of international grantmaking overall has grown from 0.2 percent in 2003, it remains very small (1.7 percent in 2010).

Among other key findings in the report:

  • Number of funders: The total number of foundations awarding WASH grants has jumped from 24 in 2003 to 78 in 2010.
  • Geographic distribution: 30 percent of all grant dollars in 2009 and 2010 went to Africa, the largest share of any geographic region, while 18 percent went to Asia, and 9 percent went to Central/South America.
  • Purpose of grants: The largest proportion of foundation grant dollars support water sector policy and administration (20 percent), followed by basic drinking water supply (17 percent), WASH research (14 percent), and basic sanitation (14 percent).

More than 780 million people do not have reliable access to clean water, and a staggering 2.5 billion do not have adequate sanitation. This report looks at the role of foundation funding in addressing this global crisis, complementing the Foundation Center's custom web portal. As a hub for funders, practitioners, and policymakers working around the world, the portal provides free access to a broad set of knowledge resources, including a mapping tool with detailed grants information, case studies of WASH project funding around the world, and a searchable archive of reports. The Foundation Center's custom web portals empower donors to be more strategic, using data-driven decision making and peer-to-peer insights to strengthen their philanthropy.

Foundation Funding for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene can be downloaded at no charge from the Foundation Center's web site.

This research brief and are made possible through support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

About the Foundation Center
Established in 1956, the Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants -- a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit the Center's web site each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of more than 450 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and around the world. For more information, please visit or call (212) 620-4230.

In October 2011, the Foundation Center launched, a web portal for funding and needs-related data for donors, policymakers, and other stakeholders interested in water, sanitation, and hygiene. With dynamically updated information, news, and knowledge relating to philanthropy and sustainable access to safe water, seeks to facilitate better collaboration and more strategic decision making among funders and aims to raise awareness about water and the full WASH continuum among donors.